2009-11-13 / Top Stories

Feds Seek To Guarantee CBB Rebate Remains

By Nicholas Briano

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirs ten Gillibrand have put their support behind legislation introduced by Sta ten Island Congressman Michael Mc Mahon that would protect resident toll discounts throughout the country, which includes the Cross Bay Bridge toll rebate for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents. The bill was introduced in re - sponse to a federal lawsuit alleging that toll discounts for New York State residents who border the Thruway are illegal and unconstitutional.

McMahon's constituents, much like Rockaway residents, enjoy a healthy discount to cross the bridges that border their communities. This bill would protect toll reductions and rebates based on residential status.

The Residential and Commuter Toll Fairness Act of 2009 introduced on October 29, seeks to provide clarification on the existing authority to provide toll discounts, and where necessary, to require Congressional authorization for local governments to issue or grant transportation toll, user fee or fare discount programs based on residential status.

This should come to as a great relief for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents, who just earlier this year fought diligently along with local elected officials to preserve the Cross Bay Bridge resident rebate program when the MTA threatened to revoke the program to help close its budget gap. This bill would guarantee that the resident rebate program, which makes the bridge free for residents, would stay in place.

"This program alleviates the financial burden of the long and expensive commute that Staten Island and many Queens residents are forced to bear, and I will work with Senator Schumer and Congressman McMa h - on to ensure it continues," Gillibrand said.

McMahon was happy to see the bill quickly gain support in the Senate with hopes of signing it into law before the year's end.

"I commend Senator Schumer for introducing this important legislation in the Senate," McMahon said. "Pre ser ving residential toll discounts is critical to my constituents who suffer the highest toll burdens in the nation and for people around the country who are forced to pay unreasonable tolls and fares," said McMahon.

"Staten Islanders have amongst the longest and most expensive commutes in the entire country; they have no other sure-fire way to get on and off the island but via bridges with sky-high tolls," Schumer said.

"I will fight to ensure they continue to receive these essential residential discount rates that protect them from obscene tolls. Discounts are fair and sensible policy and must be preserved. With this new legislation, it will be clear that residential discount programs are not only fair, but constitutional and essential."

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